Germany Offers Special Fund for Ukrainian Holocaust Survivors

Germany agreed on one of the largest-ever financial compensation packages for Holocaust survivors remaining in the world on Thursday – including a 12-month emergency fund million euros ($12 million) for the remaining 8,500 survivors in war-torn Ukraine.

The entire package, announced at an event marking the 70th anniversary of Germany’s agreement to compensate Holocaust survivors, totals $1.2 billion. These funds will primarily help cover the health care costs of an aging and declining population of survivors. It will also provide funding for Holocaust memorial education for the first time, according to the Jewish Claims Conference, the negotiating body for reparations.

“70 years later, we are still in the shadow of six million murdered Jews,” Gideon Taylor, president of the Claims Conference, said at a ceremony marking the 70th anniversary and the agreement. new compensation, to be disbursed next year. “Their suffering still haunts the Jewish people and the German people.”

Negotiators for the new compensation say the decision to provide special funds to Holocaust survivors in Ukraine was inspired by conversations with older survivors that had been evacuated from Ukraine under difficult circumstances following the Russian invasion in February. This is not the first time Germany has agreed to special payments – it also offers special disbursements to Holocaust survivors during the pandemic to pay for vaccination and care needs. other health.

“This part comes from Germany’s obligation, and its obligation to Holocaust survivors,” Mr. Taylor said. “This is a group of survivors who have been through terrible suffering.”

For the past year, the German and Claimant Conference has sponsored a special activity with Jewish rescue groups to evacuation of Holocaust survivors trapped inside Ukraine in the midst of the invasion.

Stuart Eizenstat, a former US ambassador to the European Union and top compensation negotiator since 2009, describes speaking to unmarried Ukrainian women who were brought to Germany the day before The latest round of compensation negotiations begins. They had to go through a 42-hour ambulance ride to Germany, he said, and one feared she was too weak to return to her home country.

“The woman next door said, ‘I’d love to come back, but I don’t have a family to go. They were all killed in the Holocaust, and now my village has been destroyed by the Russians,” he recalled.

“That’s why these funds are so important,” he added. “These are the people who suffered the greatest outrage at a young age, and we must do everything we can to ensure they live with the highest dignity possible.”

Germany announced its first compensation package for Jewish Holocaust survivors in Luxembourg in 1952. Mr. Eizenstat said it was the first time a country defeated in war had decided to pay. money for the victims of his invasion.

Since then, Germany has negotiated regularly with the Conference of Claims for new reparations, expanding Germany’s definition of eligible survivors, from concentration camp victims to those living in refugee camps. slums or children who survived the war.

Germany’s Finance Minister, Christian Lindner, said at that event on Thursday that it would not be the last time the country has offered compensation or marked the anniversary of its reparations. “I’m sure there will be another 160th anniversary,” he said.

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